Senior Chemistry major and Newington, Connecticut, native Kayla Carta’s 2016 SURF research project has her synthesizing macrocycles that are closely related to those observed in nature. Her hypothesis is that developing an effective synthesis will allow the creation of a series of macrocycles for use in testing against different diseases or as potential new antibiotics.
“To understand what a macrocycle is, begin by thinking of a basket of 5 one-foot strings,” Carta explained. “If we tied the ends of the strings together randomly, there could be five small rings, one long string, one large five-foot ring, or some other combination of linear and circular strings. If nature were tying together these strings, they would be tied specifically and efficiently. In the laboratory it is difficult to create specific ties that are as efficient as nature’s. Yet, it is the goal of this project to attempt to make these large rings efficiently.”
“I am interested in biochemistry and neuroscience,” Carta said. “This research has allowed me to see first hand how chemistry can be applied to the real world. This SURF opportunity has allowed me to focus on a specific topic of interest within a very broad field. It is fascinating to me how chemistry allows the creation of new compounds that can help people. I have developed new skills and techniques in my project that I will be able to bring with me whether I go into research or graduate school."